HARTFORD – Archbishop Leonard P. Blair used his homily at the Chrism Mass to remind the faithful that all members of the Body of Christ are called to evangelize.
The liturgy in the sun-drenched cathedral on April 12 was both solemn and joyous, prefaced by majestic music as a long line of priests and men and women religious preceded the archbishop to prepare to celebrate the annual sacred rites.
The Chrism Mass is one of the principal manifestations of the fullness of the bishop’s priesthood; it signifies the close unity of the priests with him. During the Mass, priests renew their commitment to priestly service, with the support and prayers of the whole assembly.
The Mass takes its name from the most eminent of three holy oils, the sacred chrism. After the Mass, representatives from parishes across the archdiocese are given portions of the oils for use in their parishes.
During the liturgy, the archbishop consecrated the oil of chrism and blessed the oil of the catechumens and the oil of the sick. “Chrism” takes its name from “Christ,” which means “the anointed one.”
Sacred chrism is used in the conferral of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, to anoint the hands of presbyters and the heads of bishops at their ordinations, and in the consecration of churches and altars.
Before blessing the oils, the archbishop said that the Church’s prayer is that the oils will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
“The Holy Spirit can transcend space and time and it is he who leads us ever more deeply into the glorified body of Christ and therefore to the Father,” he said.
He reminded those present that the Church ‘is a people made one with the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
He said society today is calling the Church to evangelization.
“In the face of social, cultural and ecclesiastical upheaval, we are waking to the urgency of evangelization, to announce, bear witness, make present and spread the mystery of the communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
“It’s everyone’s challenge to be a missionary disciple,” he said.
Archbishop Blair also referred to the challenges of the continuing work of pastoral planning within the Archdiocese of Hartford.
He said that he will again ask the Archdiocese of Hartford to participate in a novena of prayer on the nine days leading up to Pentecost Sunday.
“It is our desire for a new Pentecost in our time, in our Archdiocese of Hartford, in our world.”
The archbishop thanked the more than 200 priests who concelebrated the Mass before recommitting themselves to priestly service.
, “At this historical moment of archdiocesan pastoral planning, I am especially grateful to those of our priests in the Archdiocese of Hartford who are planning, reassuring and serving as positive leaders to their parishes, easing anxieties and helping them to move forward,” he said.
Principal concelebrants were Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin; Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell; Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso; Father Steven C. Boguslawski, moderator of the curia; Father James A. Shanley, episcopal vicar and rector of the cathedral; Father John J. Georgia and Father Christopher M. Ford, episcopal vicars; Father George S. Mukuka, judicial vicar; and Father Robert B. Vargas, vicar for clergy.
Sheila Keenan and Lillian Lopez, members of the Cathedral of St. Joseph Parish, attended the Mass together.
“The Chrism Mass is beautiful,” said Ms. Keenan, adding, “To be here with all the priests and everyone from the archdiocese is so nice, to celebrate this liturgy and the blessing of the oils together.”
Ms. Lopez said she attends the Chrism Mass annually and finds it very moving.
For the Dimodugno family from Our Lady of Pompeii Parish in East Haven, “the feeling of gratitude for the spiritual warriors [priests] who keep us all safe gets stronger every year we come,” said Mary Katherine Dimodugno. She was there with her husband Lewis and their four children, Grace, 20; Blaise, 17; Francis, 17; and Lewis, 11.
Theresa Bisson, of St. George Parish in Guilford, said that the Chrism Mass always evokes for her a special sense of closeness to St. Thérèse of Lisieux
“It’s a mini-retreat for me,” she said. “My patron saint, St. Thérèse, prays for priests. Her mission was love, but she had such a great devotion for the sacrament of the priesthood, and I cherish that. My first prayers are for priests, and this Mass of Chrism just epitomizes everything.”